Brian Stelter, media reporter for the New York Times, foisted his peculiar news judgment on Fox News, weighing President Obama's petulant remarks after the defeat of his gun control plans as more newsworthy than a fire at a Texas fertilizer plant that has killed at least 12 people and injured up to 200.
Stelter also sounded offended that Fox cut off Obama's live Rose Garden remarks, in his piece on the front of Friday's Business section: "At Fox News, Less Attention Paid to Gun Debate Than Elsewhere."
The Times even ran a photo caption: "Screen shots from Fox News show, from top to bottom, how the network cut into President Obama's remarks on the Senate vote before the president finished his first sentence."
President Obama hadn’t finished his first sentence on Wednesday when the Fox News Channel cut away from his Rose Garden remarks about the Senate’s defeat of a measure that would have expanded background checks for gun buyers.
Viewers were told they could watch the rest online if they wanted to. Then the hosts of “The Five,” the channel’s 5 p.m. talk show, resumed their conversation about liberal media bias.
The decision not to show the president’s angry rejoinder to the Senate vote -- or to cover the vote in any detail an hour earlier – was the latest example of Fox’s evident lack of interest in the gun violence debate that has captivated many other media outlets.
The channel, a favorite of conservatives, has refrained from extensive coverage while MSNBC, a favorite of progressives, has taken every conceivable opportunity to talk about it.
Of course, if Fox had stayed at the Rose Garden to rejoice in Obama's anger, Stelter could have played it the other way, accusing Fox of wallowing gleefully in gun control's comprehensive defeat.
Stelter then hailed Joe Scarborough as a conservative voice of reason for warning that the GOP was headed toward extinction, then accused Fox of ignoring that important "news" while focusing on trivial stuff like the Texas explosion.
Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, the co-hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” have openly campaigned for legislative reforms after the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., in December, which left 26 people dead.
On Thursday, Mr. Scarborough, a registered Republican who promotes his conservative credentials as well as an independent streak, assailed the lawmakers who voted against the background check legislation. Citing the failed Senate vote as evidence, Mr. Scarborough said, “This party is moving toward extinction.”
That would come as news to Fox fans, who have heard comparatively little about the subject. While most of “Joe” was dedicated to guns on Thursday, Fox’s morning show, “Fox & Friends,” didn’t mention the word once. It focused instead on news about a Texas fertilizer plant explosion.
Because who could possibly care about an explosion and mass death and destruction in Texas two days after the terrorist attack in Boston? The Times certainly did, putting the plant explosion on the front page Friday after running an early report on the front of Thursday's National section. Mary Katherine Ham at Hot Air witheringly summed up:
Which explosion was that? The massive fertilizer plant explosion that rocked an entire region, with casualties feared in the high double digits and injuries to over 150? The explosion that happened just hours before the broadcast and featured dramatic live and viral video from the scene? The one that sent shock waves 45 miles across the state of Texas and a chill down the backs of citizens too often besieged by fiery, unexpected tragedies this week? The one that was an ongoing threat to surrounding areas because of the highly flammable nature of fertilizer, had not been definitively deemed an accident, and had ATF agents heading down to its location just north of Waco, Texas? That explosion? Because I’m pretty comfortable with that editorial decision.
Stelter went to the horse's mouth for anti-Fox ranting:
Competitors were quick to pounce. Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC, noted that ABC, CBS and NBC had broadcast special reports because they deemed the president’s remarks that important. He called Fox’s decision to skip it “a disgrace.”
Stelter noted but did not emphasize that, by the way, Fox had cut away from remarks by its apparent gun-rights ally, NRA chief Wayne LaPierre, in similar fashion back on December 21.
Fox’s apparent restraint dates back at least to December, immediately following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Media observers noticed that the channel was the last to start covering the Dec. 21 media event by the National Rifle Association’s chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, and the first to move on to another story. It cut away while Mr. LaPierre was still speaking, an unusual step for a cable news channel.
Stelter at least worked in the ubiquity of MSNBC's pro-gun control propaganda, though he reserves his disdain for Fox News.
MSNBC hosts at almost every hour of the day have repeatedly argued for tighter gun restrictions in the four months since Sandy Hook, suggesting that the subject is a way to rally progressives -- or at least progressive-minded cable TV viewers.